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SA ex-Forestry boss fined for dishonesty

AAP logoAAP 8/11/2016

The former chief executive of Forestry SA has been fined $4800 for dishonestly performing public duties over an undisclosed discount he gave to a sawmill to make up for a minor oversight in a sales contract.

Adrian Hatch, 58, in July 2013 arranged for the sawmill to get wood discounts that amounted to about $10,000 to square up the cost of a log scanner upgrade that had been mistakenly left out of an earlier sales deal.

"It is inexplicable why such a relatively minor and otherwise lawful transaction was not disclosed," Judge Sydney Tilmouth told the South Australian District Court on Wednesday.

"To outward appearances you foolishly and rather impulsively dealt with the matter this way in the hope and expectation it would go unnoticed."

Hatch was originally charged with abuse of public office, following an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, but this was later downgraded to the dishonesty offence.

"A good deal of public time and resources were no doubt spent investigating the matter and it has served to damage the reputation and standing of Forestry SA," Judge Tilmouth said.

But the court heard Hatch had stood to make no personal gain from his actions, financially or otherwise.

"Your motivation was one of convenience," the judge said.

"There is nevertheless the need to impose a penalty to mark the fact that this impropriety was serious enough in the context of the performance of public duties."

Hatch had worked in the forestry industry for more than 30 years and had a previously unblemished criminal record.

Judge Tilmouth said Hatch, who was terminated from his position at Forestry SA, may find it difficult to regain work in the industry after the conviction.

"The financial detriment for you and your family is a significant one," he said.

Hatch avoided prison and was fined $4800, reduced from $8000, because of his early plea, regret and co-operation.

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